When I look at my 13 years old daughter’s busy school and social life, it reminds me of my childhood. The stark difference in terms of simplicity of things in all spheres like school, family, friend groups, handling technology and global exposure stand out.
I feel we had it really simple as compared to our kids. Missing one day of school was not a family discussion issue, holidays were not planned taking into account the school trips or annual days and going to ancestral homes was not dependent on kids’ summer camps. In short, life was simple.
While it may be true, I am amazed by the adaptive mechanisms of today’s kids. They have become multi- taskers inadvertently, in today’s fast paced life. However, somewhere it does play on their mental well-being. The rat race in everything, the peer pressure, the need to know it all sometimes becomes too much to handle. This leads to issues like self doubt, going in a shell, becoming a loner or even depression.
What if we are able to protect our kids from these issues using some in-built mechanisms? Having a positive self- esteem is one such way of ensuring that our kids navigate through the myriad of today’s asks and aspirations.
A positive self-esteem is nothing but having a positive and realistic knowledge of one’s abilities and the things one could achieve. It is the realisation of where one stands and how to march towards the goals one needs to achieve. These goals may be as simple as having a confident look or aspiring for a career.
A child with positive self-esteem harnesses his / her abilities to achieve things. But it doesn’t stop at just that. The child also is aware of the areas needing improvement and works on them to change them to strengths.
The importance of having a positive self-esteem has become more pronounced in today’s times with external factors like competition, peer pressure or desiring to have a certain way of life which greatly impact our lives today.
Kids who have a positive self-esteem, look at the outcome of things in a very different way than those who do not have it. The following table demonstrates a few everyday life approach to things –
|Kid with a positive self-esteem
|Kid with a negative self-esteem
|A tough exam
|Today was tough, I shall work on my weak areas and do better next time.
|I will never be able to crack this subject.
|Adorning a particular fashion
|I am ok not going with the flow, I like my style the way it is.
|I would never be able to pull that look. I always look bad in anything I wear.
|I shall learn from my shortfalls. I failed this time but would definitely be successful the next time.
|It’s the same thing every time. I am just a failure. I will never be able to succeed in it.
|Making new friends
|Let me join the new group. I am sure I will make friends.
|Should I approach the group? Will they accept me? Will they make fun of me?
|I will follow what feels right to me. I shall not succumb to what others are saying.
|I too have to do what all others are doing. If I do not join them, I shall be left all alone. I do not want to be left alone.
From the above table, it is clear that kids with a positive self-esteem approach things in a different way. They are sure of themselves and are ready to take a stand if needed. They do not fear failure or are not afraid to be left alone in a situation. They certainly look at things from a learning perspective.
It is indeed a boon to have a child with a positive self esteem. For others, there are ways in which parents can help kids take stride towards this quality.
- Accept your child’s uniqueness – the first and foremost thing a parent must do is to realise the uniqueness of their child. Comparison with other kids even when done with a good intention, is detrimental. A child who realises that the parents love him / her the way he/she is would definitely be more confident about self.
- Be a good listener – give the time your child needs to tell you things. It may be as simple as a talk about a particular hairstyle that is trending, a new advertisement by a global football star or a famous online game that is a rage at present. One may not understand all that the child tells, but the time and intent shown by the parent in listening goes a long way in building self-esteem positively. It assures the child that there is someone who is always ready to hear then out even about seemingly trivial things. This further goes in giving the child the courage to ask for advice or listen to when it is being given.
- Engage with their lifestyle – the instant comparison today’s parents have vis-a-vis their childhood or teen days and their kids’ lives today is inevitable. We must understand the changing times and learn to be in sync with kids’ lives today. We may not agree to everything but the will shown by us to know their world, helps them in developing a positive image of themselves. Our kids may bicker with us and throw tantrums but our validation or a simple acknowledgement matters the most to them.
- Be an example of positive self-esteem – kids look up to parents in every way. If we are the bearers of a negative persona about ourselves, they would imbibe the trait. Presenting a positive image of oneself goes a long way in ensuring a positive self-esteem in the kids.
- Give meaningful feedbacks – kids look for validation of things they do from their parents, teachers, peer groups etc. Always ensure that you give meaningful feedback. Praise the child for the good and then mention the things that they need to improve upon.
- Let them fail, be ready to catch them if they do – This is a very difficult thing to do for any parent. We never want our kids to face failure. But nothing teaches them like failure does. It gives them a reality check about their abilities. While doing so, we just have to be present to hold their hand and guide them when they realize that they have failed and do not know what to do next.
Building a positive self-esteem is not a short term goal. It is a round the clock job where both the kids’ and the parents’ efforts are needed. A child with a positive self esteem builds a character that can withstand the pressures of life. Such traits have to be revised till they become a habit. It’s a task easier said than done. The most important thing however is to embark on it. So let’s begin this journey if not already on it. Joining ?